Tag Archives: Events

Gateways Open Day at the National Maritime Museum


On 28 September 2014, Gateways to the First World War held a public open day at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. This event brought together representatives from a wide range of organisations working on the First World War, and gave members of the public the opportunity to find out about a number of different projects being organised to commemorate the centenary. Local organisations such as Chatham Historic Dockyard and Greenwich Heritage Centre provided tasters of their First World War research and exhibitions.  Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) projects supported by the Gateways team, such as Superact’s ‘The Last Post’ and the National Children’s Football Alliance, showcased some of their work. Representatives from the British Association for Local History, HLF, the War Memorials Trust, The Western Front Association and many others were also present, offering advice on how to get involved in centenary projects and events.


A selection of the day’s exhibitors

Given its location, there was certainly a maritime feel to this event. Quintin Colville (National Maritime Museum) led a tour of the ‘Forgotten Fighters of the First World War’ gallery, an exhibition documenting the naval dimension of the First World War.  On this tour, he outlined how the exhibition was constructed, and how individual items were chosen for display. Chris Bellamy (University of Greenwich) gave an evocative lecture on the First World War at sea, and how developments at sea often affected the land battles that are imprinted on public awareness of this conflict. These sessions highlighted a dimension that is often forgotten in the wider public remembrance of the conflict.


Quintin Colville (National Maritime Museum) introduces the Forgotten Fighters of the First World War exhibition

Alongside these sessions, there were opportunities for members of the public to think about how they could study the First World War, and how they could use source material to chart their family’s involvement in the conflict. Chris Ware (University of Greenwich) ran a public session outlining how to ‘fish’ for your ancestors, using archival resources present at the National Maritime Museum and at the National Archives. He used examples from his own family history to illustrate the sort of projects that could be conducted, and how these resources could be used in a practical manner. Tracey Weller (National Maritime Museum) ran a ‘Show and Tell’ session, using an array of primary source materials from the museum.

Kate Morgan, a third year undergraduate student in the School of History, University of Kent, found the day ‘extremely informative with a particular highlight being the talk given by the exhibition curator. I am in the process of researching the First World War for my dissertation, and found the information available, particularly concerning primary sources, very useful.’


Professor Mark Connelly and Dr Lucy Noakes spoke to budding historians of all ages!

The open day was the first of an extensive series of events planned and supported by Gateways. Events coming up in 2014 include:

31 October: ‘Discover Portsmouth in the First World War’, free discovery day, Portsmouth City Museum

11 November: Well-Remembered Voices, a one-day public event exploring how theatre responded to the events of 1914-1918 at The Marlowe, Canterbury

20 November: ‘Whose Remembrance?’ A film presentation, panel discussion and Q&A session at the University of Leeds, organised in partnership with Legacies of War and the Imperial War Museum

12 December: ‘Representations of the Christmas Truce’, a one-day public symposium at the University of Kent

Launch of Gateways to the First World War, Friday 30th May 2014

Last week saw the launch of Gateways to the First World War, one of five AHRC-funded centres designed to enhance public engagement and mark the centenary of the conflict. Gateways is based at the University of Kent and brings together a team of researchers from the Universities of Portsmouth, Brighton, Greenwich, Leeds and Queen Mary, London. The launch was part of a First World War Study day organised by the University of Kent’s German Department. The event was opened by Professor John Baldock, the University of Kent’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research, who expressed the university’s pleasure in hosting the Centre and introduced an afternoon of debate and discussion on the First World War and its commemoration.

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Dominiek Dendooven, Dr Suzanne Bardgett, His Excellency Dr Emil Brix and Dr Deborah Holmes discuss how and why we should commemorate the First World War

One of the highlights of the event was a panel discussion on the commemoration of the First World War chaired by the event’s organiser Dr Deborah Holmes, of the German Department, and featuring Dr Emil Brix, Austria’s Ambassador to the UK, Dr Suzanne Bardgett, the Imperial War Museum’s Director of Research, and Dominiek Dendooven of In Flanders Fields Museum, Belgium. The panel led a fascinating discussion of both the problems and benefits of commemorating an event often complicated by ‘contested memories’. Dr Brix expressed his belief in the importance of European collaboration in the commemoration of the war, and Mr Dendooven discussed the ways in which the Flanders Field Museum is attempting to overcome national boundaries through exhibitions focused on individual war experiences. Dr Bardgett outlined some of the exciting centenary projects supported by the Imperial War Museum, including Lives of the First World War, the First World War Partnership, and Whose Remembrance?, the IWM’s project to investigate the role of colonial troops in the conflict. The discussion reinforced one of the key aims of the Gateways project: to encourage academics and the wider public to work together to discover connections between the local and the global during the First World War. As Gateways’ Director Professor Mark Connelly stated, the conflict was, for Kent and the South East in particular, a ‘global event with global repercussions’ which took place ‘on the doorstep’.


Gateways Director Professor Mark Connelly with His Excellency Dr Emil Brix, Dr Deborah Holmes and Dr Heide Kunzelmann

The panel discussion was followed by an illustrated lecture by Professor Connelly and Dr Heide Kunzelmann, of the German Department, presenting photographs taken of troop mobilisation and prisoners of war in 1914 by Dr Kunzelmann’s great-grandfather, a medical officer in the Habsburg Army. Comparing these newly discovered sources to photographs taken by British officers in 1914, the pair talked about the connections between the personal and the public, and the similarities between artefacts of the First World War from different sides of the conflict. Through their discussion of the photographs – which focused on the themes of mobilization, violence, vulnerability and reconstruction – they emphasised the importance of revisiting accepted and established approaches to the conflict.

img023 img017 Photographs taken by Dr Friedrich Kunzelmann in 1914

The event ended with a drinks reception and official launch of the Gateways to the First World War Centre. Professor Connelly and Dr Will Butler outlined some of the centenary projects already underway, including a collaboration with Step Short of Folkestone on an app tour highlighting the town’s connections to the conflict, and guests were shown the newly-launched Gateways website. After a successful opening event, the Gateways team is now looking forward to developing its work with local groups and organisations on a range of First World War projects across the UK. The Centre aims to encourage and support public interest in the conflict through a range of events and activities such as open days and study days, providing access to materials and expertise, and signposting for other resources and forms of support. Forthcoming events include:

19th July 2014 – 25th January 2015 – ‘Lest We Forget’, an exhibition in conjunction with Portsmouth City Council

13th September 2014 – A Family History Day at Brighton Museum in conjunction with Brighton Museums and Pavilion

28th September 2014 – Gateways to the First World War Public Open Day, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

12th December 2014 – ‘Representations of the Christmas Truce’, a one day symposium at the University of Kent

More details of these and many other projects can be found on the Gateways website at www.gatewaysfww.org.uk. The Gateways team can be contacted at gateways@kent.ac.uk and via Twitter and Facebook.